How To Search Gmail

Knowing how to search Gmail is the first step in accessing this dynamic webmail provider’s full potential.

  1. Show Search Options The first step in searching Gmail is clicking “Show search options” to the right of the search bar. This will give you basic options to narrow down your search: date, keywords, whether or not it has an attachment, etc. These advanced options are the best place to start a Gmail search.
  2. Search by Address If you’re looking for an email from someone you met but all you can remember of their name and contact info is part of their email address, head to Gmail’s “Contacts” area. Type in whatever you can remember of the person’s email address or name and Gmail will search every single email addresses (and the name associated with them) that you have ever received mail from or sent mail to. If you type in “dude” and “John Clark” shows up, it’s because his email includes the word “dude.” Results under “My Contacts” are people you have added to your address book or people you have communicated with frequently; results under “Other Contacts” are all the rest. To find the emails you have exchanged with “John Clark,” just click on his name. His info will show up on the right; click “Recent conversations: show” and all the mail you have exchanged with that person will be displayed.
  3. All Mail Most Gmail users don’t know about the great big melting pot that is the “All Mail” section of Gmail. You can find it under all your labels (you might have to expand the list) right between “Drafts” and “Spam.” All Mail is where every single one of your email is kept, even the ones you’ve sent or deleted! When you use the search bar from “Inbox,” you are searching “All Mail.” “All Mail” is really overwhelming and not organized at all, but if you’re looking for an email but can’t remember who sent it to you, whether they responded, or whether or not you deleted it, it’s the place to browse.
  4. Multi-Label Searches The most useful search tip out there for Gmail is using the multi-label search. If your coworker emailed you a funny forward but you can’t seem to find it, try searching for “label:coworkers” and “label:funny-stuff.” This search will only pull up emails that have both labels. This is incredibly useful if you have an elaborate and well-organized label system in place.

Tip: To make future searching easier, make good use of labels. Basically, just make sure you label every email that comes through your inbox, don’t be afraid to tack several different labels onto one email, and aim to make your labels specific rather than general.


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